Against expectation, the national conference is becoming a
force for change
Basking in the glory of securing a two-thirds cut in Nigeria's US$34 billion foreign debt and the more ambiguous achievement of being British Prime Minister Tony Blair's new best friend in Africa, President Olusegun Obasanjo is being forced to take a reality check back home. The reason is the National Reform Conference, now under way. Dismissed by many as a talking shop when it opened in February to review proposals for political reform, the conference has developed a life of its own under the aegis of a widely respected priest, Father Matthew Hassan Kukah. The country's quarrelling constituencies and lobbies, representing over 300 ethnic groups and sectional interests, now see the conference as a vehicle for forcing political change, with or without the consent of Nigeria's establishment.
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